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When may eliminating poison save life?


‘The primary object of the treatment of acute poisoning is not to collect as much “poison” from the patient as possible, but is to save life when this is threatened . . . ’.1 Most poisoned patients require only supportive treatment. Eliminative measures, other than those intended to reduce absorption of poison such as the oral administration of active charcoal,2 are hazardous. Adequate controlled trials to show whether they save life have not been performed. We can use only uncontrolled observations and theoretical arguments to decide whether removal of poison is likely to help.

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